Thanksgiving in July: Slake’s new menu

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 07.29.13
When I reviewed Slake Cafe for Sandwich City three weeks ago, I found good bread, decent brisket, aromatic pork and a chicken salad on sourdough that deserved a paragraph all its own. What I couldn’t rally behind was turkey dressed in Reuben-esque regalia, because it didn’t properly showcase this real roasted turkey, dark and white, pulled from the bone in all the bird’s gamey complexity. What I said was: “Own that turkey. Give it cranberry relish. Give it some gravy. The bird showed up ready to rock. Let’s throw him a party.”
It seems the party has been thrown.
This week, Slake rolled out a new menu that includes the Thanksgiving Turkey Dip ($8), which puts that same turkey on the bakery’s own crusty ciabatta, pressed panini-style, with whole-fruit cranberry relish as tart as Puritan pillowtalk. The bread’s sharp-toasted crackle adds texture, but the flavor accelerant is a side of gravy, thick with salt and herbs and the living glow of rendered fat. A French dip for the ’Merican in all of us.
Before I break my arm patting myself on the back, some context. Slake general manager Alex Martin said in an e-mail that he and chef Jon Shea had done this sandwich at a previous shop, then ran a special at Slake after that, intending to put it on the menu eventually. “Albeit your comments did help to spur it along,” he went on to say. Besides the rechristened Turkey, the new menu adds house-brined corned beef for a proper Reuben, a fried chicken sandwich with bacon jam and a slate of entrees like custom mac-and-cheese, a daily meatball slider, green curry and tacos made with brisket, pulled pork or “drunk” chicken.
Here’s a look at the new menu, which went into effect Friday. Coffee, tea and pastries run 7am-7pm at this weekday-only cafe, with breakfast until 11am. Sandwiches and entrees are available 11am-7pm Mon-Fri. (These hours have been corrected from an earlier version.)
Note: I run restaurant menus from time to time, for new places like Arro on West Sixth or when a change might catch my readers’ interests. It’s not a paid service, and I sought the restaurant’s permission beforehand.
Slake Cafe
120 E. Seventh St. 512-476-0060,
Hours: Open Mon-Fri. Coffee and pastry 7am-7pm, breakfast 7-11am, sandwiches & entrees 11am-7pm. Closed Sat-Sun.
(TOP: Slake Cafe’s Thanksgiving Dip, with roasted and pulled white and dark turkey meat and cranberry relish on ciabatta with a side of turkey gravy for dipping. Photo by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking. Menus reprinted by permission.)